They'd bought the house because they'd agreed it felt like the kind of place where they could raise a family.
"It just needs a little TLC," the realtor had said.
They'd liked the sound of that. She was a veterinarian. He was a teacher. TLC was practically written into their genetic code. Little had they known that "TLC" was realtor-speak for "MULTIPLE MAJOR ORGAN TRANSPLANTS" ....
First had come the flooding. They'd thought that was a one-off thing, and at least it was just the basement. She called her dad, who just laughed. "Oh honey, you're gonna need a plumber for that. Welcome to the wonderful world of home ownership!"
Next came the electrical mishaps. Installing a garage door opener sounded so easy. Right? When the ceiling fan flipped out all on its own, she started to think the house was haunted.
"That's ridiculous," he said. "You don't believe in ghosts."
"I believe in malevolent houses..."
That night they watched The Money Pit, and thought, you know, it wasn't so bad.
"At least the floors are solid," he said.
The next day, after he'd hung up from the call about ceiling repairs, he looked at her legs dangling above his head, and facepalmed. "At least the floors are solid," she said. Then they both cracked up for a minute before she added, "Seriously, though, go get ladder or something."
The ladder was rickety, but it held up well enough for her to climb out of the hole. He wasn't so lucky when he tried to clean the gutters....
"The school's drama department is getting rid of a bunch of old set supplies," he said one night. "I can get some free paint for the attic if you want. I know you were saying you'd like to make it into a home office."
"That would be great!" She beamed and gave him an impromptu peck on the cheek.
He even got a troupe of drama students to do the painting for her while she was working a Saturday shift. They said they could count it as part of their community service requirement. She would be so surprised, he thought. She needed a break after the last few months of stress.
Only when she got home, and he led her up there, he found out they'd chosen bright green.
Her jaw dropped, and not in a good way. "Did you ask them to paint it this color?"
He shrugged, helpless. "I said to make it cheery. You know, brighten it up."
She moaned. "It looks like the lair of a deranged leprechaun." Then she whipped out her phone and called her mother. "What do I do? It's just so green!" The conversation grew more panicky as it progressed. Luckily, he had Doug on speed dial by that point. It looked like they were in for another trip to Lowe's.
"I'll do the painting myself this time," he said.
She took his hand in hers, and gave it a gentle squeeze. "I'll help."
He didn't even want to think about the hornets. The less said on that subject, the better.
But now, six months after they'd moved in, the place was looking pretty good. He smiled as she came out to the patio with a pitcher of lemonade. Their friends and family had all turned up to celebrate their victory over malevolent house goblins. Both sets of parents, his sister, her favorite vet tech, the entire school drama club, and of course Doug.
"Who's ready for some housewarming hamburgers?" he asked the crowd. A cheer went up. "All right, then, let me just fire up this brand new grill."
She dropped the pitcher in horror as his overly soaked charcoal briquettes went up in a giant bonfire. "Oh no, the siding!"
Doug stepped up with a fire extinguisher and put it out before more than two strips could get singed. "Good thing I brought you the housewarming present I think everyone should have."
She stepped back and began to clean up the spilt lemonade. At least the pitcher had been plastic.
"You might wanna think about moving the grill away from the side of the house," said Doug.
They both nodded at the smoldering charcoal, which was now covered in flame-retardant chemicals.
"So," he said, "who wants pizza?"